Monday, August 18, 2008

Things I Learned About Being Mugged

SO, LAST NIGHT, I WAS MUGGED. It's okay. I was not injured. Even though the guy had a gun, he was polite enough not to point it at me (that would have been rude). And my wallet was returned this morning (sans cash, naturally) by a neighbor. In the last 14 hours I've reflected on my experience and I've learned a couple of things. Mostly what I learned was that I am a terrible witness, especially when I am the victim of a crime. While I clearly saw the man jog toward me (from across the street) with a gun, once he was close by, I sorta kinda blacked out. I have no recollection of seeing his face at all. Below is an artist's rendition of the perp, based on my description.

Although, the gun might not have been that big or that blue. But that is what his face looked like from what I recall. I could lie and say, "I didn't really see his face clearly because it was dark," since it was 9:40 p.m. when I got robbed. But that wasn't the case. I think what happened was I decided not to engage him. The presence of the gun was enough to convince me that he had the upper hand in the situation. My focus from that point on was on not getting shot. I'm selfish like that. So I chose a spot in the air roughly between us to focus on. Not very helpful when one is trying to describe a criminal to the authorities, but it seemed to work okay in the keeping alive department.

Since the mugging, I have replayed the scenario a couple of times, with some embellishment.

Fictional Scenario #1:
After getting mugged on the previous day, I find myself walking the same route home at night on the following evening. At exactly the same intersection, the mugger jogs out from his hiding place behind the hedge and says, "Give me your wallet." Just as he had done on the night previous.

"Okay," I say. Just as I had done on the night previous.

He gestures up the street with his gun and says, "Now run up the street. Run that way." Just as he had done on the night previous.

"Okay," I say just like I did before.

The next morning, my wallet is returned by a neighbor. That evening, for some reason, I am walking that same route around the same time. At the intersection, the same mugger approaches me.

"Fancy meeting you here," I say, while pulling my wallet from my back pocket.

"Yeah," he chuckles, "small world, right?" He gestures with the gun. "You know the drill."

"Yes, I do," I say. And I run up the street away from him.

Again, my wallet is returned the next morning. And again, that next evening, for reasons that continue to escape me, I am alone on the street at 9:40 p.m. And again, I am mugged by the same mugger. Before he can say anything, I hand him my wallet. "We've gotta stop meeting like this," I joke. "People will start to talk."

He doesn't find this funny. I run up the street before he even tells me to.

The next morning, my wallet is back. That evening, I am walking after dark. There is obviously something soothing about this new ritual. Even though it involves a gun and a crime. It's predictable. Like Groundhog Day, only I'm not learning from it. I reach "Mugger's Corner", as I now call it in my head, but this time: no mugger.

I wait for ten minutes, then tell myself, "I'll give him ten more minutes, but that's it."

After six minutes, I walk back home, a little dejected.

The next two nights, I wait alone at Mugger's Corner and then return home, disappointed. The break in ritual has left an emptiness inside me. Even though, I feel like I'm setting myself up for another disappointment, I walk up to Mugger's Corner at 9:40 the following night. I wait a little bit and then the mugger walks out of the shadows. I notice he has no gun in his hand.

"Hey, where've you been?" I say, trying to sound casual. "I was starting to worry."

I make a move for my wallet, but he stops me. "That's all right. I don't need your wallet," he says, not looking at me.

"What? What are you talking about?"

"I don't want your wallet, okay?"

It dawns on me what's going on. "You're mugging someone else, aren't you?"

He doesn't answer.

"Oh my god, you are!"

We don't speak for a long, uncomfortable moment. He breaks the silence. "I guess I could take your wallet, if you wanted me to."

I am offended. "I don't need your pity." 

I walk off. I think I hear him say "I'm sorry" behind me. But I'm too busy fighting back the tears to know for sure.

Fictional Scenario #2:
I am home when my wallet is returned. The man who returns the wallet appears to be a little shy. I ask him what is wrong. After a little hemming and hawing, he looks me in the eye and says, "I'm the mugger. I'm sorry I mugged you."

"Wow," I say, "this is surprising." He looks nothing like the picture of the mugger I have inside my head. That is to say, his face has eyes and a nose and a mouth. It is not a featureless disk. Which is reassuring.

"I just wanted to apologize," says the mouth below his nose on his face. "I only did it because I wanted your money."

"That makes sense."

"I don't have much money, you see, but I do have a gun. And I have found that simply having a gun is sometimes enough to get me money. It's almost better than having a job."

"Well, I will not argue with your logic, since I know you have a gun."

"Yes, I do."

"But if I could offer some constructive criticism...?"

"Oh certainly. I am always looking for ways to improve myself."

"First of all, I will say that your lurking skills are pretty good. Overall, you are strong in the lurking department."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome. Also, you were very polite. You demanded my wallet without demanding it, if you know what I mean?"

"I let the gun do the talking."

"Exactly. Without even pointing it at me. Which, did I mention, I really appreciate."

"You did not, but you're welcome."

"So, those are the good points. Where I think you can improve is in your basic thinking."

"I'm not sure I follow."

"This thinking that having a gun is better than having a job."

"Ah, I see where this is going. So far, it has worked out pretty well for me."

"Which I do not doubt. I'm just saying, and it's just a suggestion, 'just a pitch' as we say in the writing biz: there may come a day when you run into someone bigger and tougher or with a bigger gun. If that happens, things might not turn out well."

"I see what you're saying and I appreciate the note. But I'm going to stick with the gun for now."

"That's fair. It was just a thought."

"No, thanks. Really. I do appreciate it."

"And I appreciate you bringing my wallet back."

"It was the least I could do."

"I don't suppose you were also going to give me back my money."

"Heavens no. I spent that far as you know."

"I figured. Thought I'd ask anyway."

"Right. So..."

"Yeah...awkward, huh?"

"A little bit."

We stare at each other for a short while, then he adds, "'re a writer?"

"Yes, I am."

"Would you be willing to read my screenplay and give me notes?"

"Do you still have a gun?"

"Yes I do."

"Then of course I will."


Unknown said...

Damn you and your stupid ability to channel your fear into funny.

Glad you're OK. Seriously.

Unknown said...

Glad you're okay, buddy, BUT what about the scenario where the mugger is actually you from a parallel universe. What I mean by that is, will you read my screenplay and give me notes?

SamProof said...

Where abouts did all this happen?

Anonymous said...

I've found most muggers who ask for notes on their screenplays really just want you to tell them how awesome it is.

S!ick said...

Being born, raised, and mugged (with an audience two blocks away from The Whitehouse) in D.C. - I've learned to carry multiple wallets: one for "them" (muggers/police/etcetera)...

Anonymous said...

this is really, really funny. you should consider getting mugged more often because it's done amazing things for your creativity.

Steven said...

I think we need a Chuxx song, either "Muggee" or "Mugger's Corner." Perhaps it should be an instrumental.

Anonymous said...

I like Scenario #1 best.

Indianblogger said...

You certainly have a rare talent to make a monkey out of a chicken. I loved this blog, though I stumbled upon it quite by chance(via blog rolling your wife's "Fake Good bloggers both of you.

Neelima (From Bangalore,India)

Foz the Hook said...

Steve's idea for a song title is good, but not nearly as good as Neelima's idea for "Make a Monkey Out of a Chicken."

That song writes its self!

Jeff - again - glad you're not dead.


Mark said...

I have been following your blog for a long time. I thought I'd go back and read one of your old posts (this one) and it's really damn good. You should write more stories in your newer posts even though your current posts are still pretty awesome.